I did not understand the discomfort or the sudden wish that I was anywhere else until I was literally standing in someone’s shadow.
The date had probably started well, but the only thing I remember now is the end when he asked me if I kissed on the first date.
Let me clarify, I really appreciated him asking instead of simply leaning in for a goodnight kiss. It was not awkward, and it did not ruin the moment. What did ruin it was his response to my negative answer.
His response? “I don’t believe you.”
My reaction? Take me home now. Or at least, I wish it was.
Instead, I simply tried to direct our meandering route back to my apartment, so I could duck inside without any drama. Keyword: tried.
The ducking into my apartment turned into a ducking of his lips, and the ducking of his lips turned into ducking from him for the rest of the semester.
It was then that I learned something I hadn’t understood.
I remember listening to others freak out about situations I thought were trivial, and even thinking they were blowing situations out of proportion. Some of the stories shared with me included dating.
This experience knocked me over the head with the understanding that sometimes I just need to listen and recognize that I don’t always get it. That person had the right to feel the way they did, no matter my opinion or judgment, and my dismissal of their experience was potentially harmful to them.
In today’s world, sometimes we dismiss the feelings of others. We say they are irrational; they are overreacting, or they are taking things the wrong way. We also ignore their ideas, suggestions or experiences while we hold our own above others.
Even some general authorities from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have felt this dismissal.
According to the Church’s website, Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, related to this question posed by a sister in the Church:
“What suggestions do you have about working more effectively and in greater unity with priesthood leaders, especially when from time to time, some leaders can seem a little dismissive?”
Bingham said she would come home and slam her purse down on the counter after meetings with a priesthood brother who would generally leave her seething, according to the Church’s website.
Luckily, Bingham has some advice for those who feel this way.
According to the Church’s website, she said, “I learned that if I prayed for him, if I worked to understand him and better ways to express myself or approach him, that we worked much better together.”
For those of us who may be causing these feelings, President N. Eldon Tanner, second counselor in the First Presidency, warned us that we don’t have the vision needed for this dismissive judgment.
“At best, man can judge only what he sees,” according to Tanner. “He cannot judge the heart or the intention, or begin to judge the potential of his neighbor. When we try to judge people, which we should not do, we have a great tendency to look for and take pride in finding weaknesses and faults, such as vanity, dishonesty, immorality, and intrigue.”
Sometimes, we don’t even see this part of our unrighteous judgment or don’t connect dismissive behaviors with being judgmental, but it truly is.
We should be careful to follow the advice of the “Judging Others” entry in Gospel Topics:
“Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions.”